When cat showing began in Britain in 1871, Silver Tabbies were shown from the start, though the early classes included "Blue Tabbies, with or without white". The Blue Tabby does not seem to have met with much favour and breeding evidently concentrated on the more attractive Silver with the result that Blue Tabbies finally faded from the scene.
Early reports mention two types of Silver Tabby and Miss Leake, one of the most successful breeders of these cats before 1900, claimed that there were cats with broad markings and others with narrow stripes. Very probably these were the blotched and mackerel striped varieties that are commonly seen to this day in the short-haired section of the Fancy. It must be presumed that in the long-haired form the blotched variety was the more striking and breeding concentrated on this and, since the blotched pattern is recessive to mackerel striping, once established it will always breed true when mated like-to-like. Such like-to-like matings rapidly resulted in the blotched form displacing the other, which was not encountered after the early years of the last century on the show bench.
As with other breeds eye colour in the Silver Tabby varied within wide limits in the early show days and Harrison Weir, the organiser of the first-ever cat show, thought that they should be "deep bright yellow", but the Silver Society, founded in 1900, accepted orange or green. Within the first few years of the century green was favoured as it was regarded as giving a better contrast to silver than orange or yellow, and there was steady selection by the breeders leading to the elimination of yellow. There was, however, strenuous objection in some quarters to green eyes, though this may be hard to understand today, when "green, hazel, copper or orange" is now the standard for Silver Tabbies.
For many years before the turn of the century Silver Tabbies were freqyuently mated with the developing Chinchilla and the "Shaded Silver" until it was finally realised by everyone that this was damaging to the contrasts and resulted in many nondescript cats appearing in the Silver Tabby classes with shaded silver bodies and markings only on the head and legs.
Records of early winners are difficult to find and the ancestry of the early cats is not recorded. Early successes were achieved by Topso of Dingley who was being shown in 1887, his sons Champion Felix and Climax, Shrover II, Shrover III, Abdul Zaphir, Abdul Hamet, Marquis of Dingley, Thames Valley Silver King, King Alfred and Silver Tangle. The last named bred from a Chinchilla sire and the dam of Champion Felix was a light shaded silver, confirming that this type of mating was not always disastrous.